Aga Khan University (AKU), which is among the top education and healthcare providers in the country and worldwide, is celebrating forty years of excellence. What began in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private university with only 250 students, is now among the country’s most valued education, research, and healthcare institutions with more than 2,500 students annually. At this milestone, the University is commemorating the vision of its Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, which has provided guidance and direction to AKU for its extensive achievements in only four short decades.
The development efforts of AKU in education, healthcare, and research are not just limited to Pakistan. During the 2000s, the University began to expand and now has campuses and programs spread out across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom, in addition to Pakistan. The institution offers diverse, research-oriented programs in educational development, medicine, nursing and midwifery, Muslim civilizations, journalism and communications, and arts and sciences, with an aim to inspire young researchers and professionals to become forces of positive change in their communities. Since its inception, AKU has graduated over 18,000 students, many of whom have gone on to become leaders at home and abroad and are playing key roles in healthcare, academia and policymaking around the world.
During these forty years, AKU has been committed to its mission to improve the quality of life in the developing world and beyond through world-class teaching, research, and healthcare delivery. Being a non-profit organization, the University runs various programs to support students in gaining access to world-class education and research opportunities by offering scholarships and grants.
Aga Khan University has a vast research portfolio that supports the overall vision of the University to contribute to the global body of knowledge and advance public policy in response to the real needs of communities and people in the developing world. AKU contributes significantly to Pakistan’s biomedical research; compared to other universities in Pakistan, it has one of the highest number of publications in peer-reviewed, internationally recognized journals. According to the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, six of Pakistan’s 10 most productive health researchers are AKU faculty members. In 2016, AKU established the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research to contribute to one of the most exciting fields in medical research and to ensure access to the latest diagnostics and treatments.
In recognition of its excellence and service, AKU has been awarded several accolades by leading national and international organizations including, the World Health Organization, Employees’ Federation of Pakistan, South Asia Development Marketplace, Association for Medical Education, Europe, The International Society for Quality in Health Care, amongst others. In 2021, the U.S. News & World Report ranked AKU among the top 500 universities in the world, the top 100 universities in Asia, and the top 30 universities globally in public, environmental, and occupational health.
The Aga Khan University Hospital’s contribution to the healthcare of the countries it serves is also extensive. The Hospital has multiple programs to ensure that its healthcare services are accessible to patients in need. Since 1986, the Patient Welfare Programme has assisted patients in paying for their medical bills in cases where they are unable to afford the cost of care. Last year alone, the University Hospital disbursed over $25 million to a large number of patients needing support.
AKU has also always been at the forefront of welfare and relief efforts in the countries it serves. From the highly destructive earthquake of 2005 among others to the devastating floods of 2010 which affected one-fifth of Pakistan’s land area, to the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted the world, to the monsoon rains of 2022 in Sindh and Balochistan which left millions of people homeless and vulnerable – AKU has been there to provide medical assistance, relief, and training for aid workers and medical professionals.
To further its efforts and mission, beyond the scope of medicine and healthcare, AKU has just launched its undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Pakistan. In East Africa, the University will initiate undergraduate programs in medicine and nursing this year. AKU has also commenced the development of a campus in Kampala, Uganda that will house a university hospital and academic facilities.
In the past four decades, Aga Khan University has built a legacy to provide transformative education that prepares its graduates for local and global leadership, generate solutions to problems that affect millions of people through pioneering research while striving to achieve world-class excellence, inspiring individuals and institutions to meet the highest standards.
Today, Aga Khan University stands as a testament to the vision of its Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. The University remains dedicated to achieving the highest standards of quality in education, research, and healthcare while serving the most disadvantaged in the regions in which we work.